Welcome to This Week in Culture, a weekly agenda of show openings and events in major cities across the globe. From galleries to institutions and one-of-a-kind happenings, our ongoing survey highlights the best of contemporary culture, for those willing to make the journey.
"Spotlight: Laura Owens"
Where: The FLAG Art Foundation
When: October 6 - November 18, 2023
Why It’s Worth a Look: The FLAG Art Foundation presents pioneering painter Laura Owens’s new work Untitled, 2023, along with a commissioned text by British art curator, critic, and historian Mark Godfrey. Owens’s sensational paintings are known for challenging traditional views of abstraction and the avant-garde by blending elements of familiarity with astonishment. Through bursts of spiraling colors transforming into unexpected shapes, Owens's works make it seem like the viewer caught her in the midst of her creative process.
Know Before You Go: Owens’s work surfaced in the Los Angeles art scene in the mid-'90s when criticism surrounding the medium of painting was evaluated with growing skepticism. In her earlier works, the LA-based artist rebelled against traditional abstraction with humorous allusions, silly doodling, and everyday craft materials, which also marked her developing interest in the way an artwork is placed within a room. “I like to think of each painting in an exhibition as posing its own question. And of course, any one question may actually negate another,” Owens said in a statement.
“Parallax” by Robert Irwin and Mary Corse
When: October 10-November 11, 2023
Why It’s Worth a Look: Light and space artists Robert Irwin and Mary Corse debut their first joint exhibition at a pivotal moment in their artistic careers, each having received honors and recognition from the Dia Art Foundation this year for their noteworthy contributions to American art. Exploring convergences with light and perception, Corse’s White Inner Band paintings are placed in dialogue with selections from Irwin’s ongoing Unlight series, which intersperse fluorescent tubes with panels of gray and blue paint. The gallery’s ground floor will also host an immersive light installation by Irwin.
Know Before You Go: For visitors who would like to learn more about Robert Irwin, Pace will present the European premiere of Robert Irwin: A Desert of Pure Feeling, a feature documentary about Irwin’s life as California's pioneering light and space artist, on October 26th in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). The screening will be followed by a Q&A with author Lawrence Weschler.
“A Day of Rest” by Wangari Mathenge
Where: Pippy Houldsworth Gallery
When: October 9 - November 4, 2023
Why It’s Worth a Look: “A Day of Rest” offers a powerful exploration of the often-overlooked lives and stories of domestic workers in Kenya. Through monumental paintings and installations, Kenya-born artist Wangari Mathenge provides visibility to these marginalized individuals, challenging preconceptions, and advocating for change in labor practices.
Know Before You Go: In the spring of 2022, Mathenge initiated “A Day of Rest,” inviting 20 female domestic workers to her Nairobi studio through a women’s empowerment NGO. During full-day workshops, the artist and her guests shared stories and engaged in discussions about spirituality, finances, education, feminism, as well as the importance of rest and relaxation. Mathenge’s works will be presented at the gallery alongside a replica of her studio where the guests spent part of their days.
“LA Californie” by Alex Israel
Where: Almine Rech in Paris, Matignon
When: October 15 - November 10, 2023
Why It’s Worth a Look: “LA Californie” offers a unique exploration of the intersection of art, pop culture, and the legacy of Pablo Picasso—Alex Israel’s chosen subject for much of his work. The works in this exhibition feature Israel’s California-fied renditions of the Spanish artist's still-life compositions—where he's replaced subjects such as fruit and liquor bottles with The Los Angeles Times and Malibu rum—as well as life size painted aluminum cut-outs and artistic instruments from Israel’s own LA studio. This exhibition provides a captivating glimpse into Picasso’s connection to celebrity culture, blurring the lines between past and present, while simultaneously showcasing his own creations alongside these historical artifacts.
Know Before You Go: The exhibition's title references La Californie, a villa on the French Riviera located above the city of Cannes, where Picasso resided and created art during the peak of his career. He famously converted the villa into a comprehensive display of his own work and self-portraiture, adorning it with his personal ceramics, paintings, prints, and sculptures.
“Well Done Assassin” by Amy Bravo
When: October 14 - November 11, 2023
Why It’s Worth a Look: Cuban Italian artist Amy Bravo delves into a world where art and Caribbean mysticism intersect. Her works, some of which hint at elements of pre-Christian frescoes, blend a clouded fog texture with mythological imagery such as brandish spears, mongoose skulls, and minotaurs. In this exhibition, Bravo explores the narratives of marginalized figures and blood relatives of Cuban descent, reflecting on her own Cuban queer identity and weaving together elements of culture, spirituality, and family history.
Know Before You Go: Several of the works in “Well Done Assassin” such as Disinherited (Bullseye), 2023, and At the Blue Door, 2023, make use of transformative elements such as headboards reminiscent of funeral wakes and objects integrated directly into the canvases. Bravo’s artistic decisions were also influenced by needlework from her family, featuring red threads, cords, and curtain fringes.
“The Is of It” by Ludovic Nkoth
Where: François Ghebaly, Downtown Los Angeles
When: October 7 - November 11, 2023
Why It’s Worth a Look: Cameroonian-born Ludovic Nkoth contemplates the notion of home in his latest exhibition, imagining it as both a tangible location and an ever-shifting concept. Themes such as family and belonging are central in the artist’s creative visions, along with vividly colored, sensual textured figures and engaging narratives contributing to his personal exploration of identity.
Know Before You Go: Most of the paintings in this exhibition were created during Nkoth’s residency at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris this past year where he spent time reflecting on Cameroon's colonization by the French in the 20th century. Many of his works portray his experiences in the Château Rouge neighborhood of Paris, where he interacted with multigenerational West African communities.